Update on (Drowning) Gym Rat

Eleven months and 85 pounds into my weight loss journey, I feel pretty comfortable that I have mastered techniques and behaviors around eating that will keep me going to my final goal weight and even into maintenance. Now that I am embarking on a similar path to changing physical activity, I am hitting a wall. I have an exercise plan developed with a personal trainer (that I might need to modify given the amount of knee swelling after the first workout); got my workout music on the iTouch; picked aquatic classes for my level of fitness; after experimenting with the so-called non-weight bearing elliptical (ha!) decided that the treadmill and recumbent bike will be my cardio machines of choice; even have a schedule – OK, a kinda schedule. But, I am not following through. What the heck is going on? Why can’t I apply the same internal motivation to change around eating to exercise?

I looked at a post from January to help answer my question (partially). I used a model of behavior change called the Stages of Change (proven to show how people change successfully on their own or with help) and applied techniques that matched the Stage (action) that I was in to changing how I ate.

Now I’m going to do the same thing with physical activity and see if I can’t generate some more internal motivation and confidence to stick with my exercise plan. First, the behaviors that I want to accomplish have to be very specific. So here they are (don’t laugh, I’m starting out slowly because of my damn knee and to make these initial goals achievable):

  • Exercise in some form 6 days a week
  • Aquatics class M,W,F – if the aquatics class I chose doesn’t work out, there are 3 others to select from
  • Gym workout T,Th,Sat or 60 minutes of outdoor walking or 60 minutes on home recumbent bike or 60 minutes of walking/bike
  • Check off activities on trainer’s worksheet in the gym

OK, there it is in writing. I can do that. I can. I think.

I am in the action stage for exercising. I need to remind myself of why I am doing this. These new behaviors are very important to me. I want to reclaim my self (body) as an active person, believe life long physical activity is crucial to successful weight loss maintenance and health, and know once I get started that I will feel so much better about my body and reap emotional benefit. I am, however, not so confident that I can carry out this routine even though I just said that I could. Building my self-confidence (not the same as an ego boost) is important now and for the long-term. I worry about my knee flaring up; I reflect back on past failed efforts to exercise; I wonder what to do when family and vacations get in the way (walk maybe?); I know that the very recent death of my mother and my raw grief reaction are probably impacting my ability to act. I need more confidence. So here are things that should help:

  • I have set realistic goals and know that I can modify the goals as needed based on how my body reacts (not on how my brain does)
  • Seek positive support for efforts – spouse, family, close friends, fellow bloggers. All negativity will be booted out the door. My spouse has not been as supportive with the gym. “Why do you need to spend the money? Why can’t you just walk?” Negotiations in progress.
  • Reward myself for small changes – something I didn’t do with my dietary changes. So I’m going to have to think about this. What can I give myself for staying 100% on track for one week?
  • Continue reading/watching the successful exercise experiences of others like myself. “Hey, if she can do it, so can I!”

Those of you who have been successful in becoming a regular exerciser, feel free to let me know how you did it. I’m open to any suggestions on the how to do – not necessarily the what to do. Really, I’m drowning here.

Sarah Harford's "To Save a Drowning Rat"

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7 thoughts on “Update on (Drowning) Gym Rat

  1. For me, I have to set my initial goal a little smaller than my ultimate goal. Maybe a reward for every 3 times you go to the gym or do some exercise (with your trainer, a walk, whatever) would be a place to start. Maybe the 6 days a week is what feels like an “all or nothing” type thing. Just a thought.

  2. I think those are serious goals – not laughable at all! It has taken me years to build up an exercise routine. And to be totally honest, I still struggle many days with just getting started. For me personally, working out with someone else is a big help. Either a friend, or in a class at the gym, or now with my husband which I thought I would hate. Last winter in to spring I also found it motivating to join an exercise challenge on 3fatchicks. We each came up with a number of minutes as a goal. I worked harder knowing I was going to update that total count publicly everyday. I have learned to let go of the guilt when stuff gets in the way of exercise, like vacations. But when possible I do try to do something when I travel. Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress. And if I can help in anyway let me know. Like nagging or encouraging daily emails or tweets:)

  3. I think your plan is solid and aggressive. I think the water exercise to start is a solid choice. For me, the more I do, the more I want to do. It’s just going to be a matter of making yourself do it. No excuses. When you hear that voice in your head, “I’m sore. I’m tired. I’m old. I’m fat. I don’t like exercise.” tell it to shut the hell up.

    Try to hang on to your memories of loving being athletic. Is it that you can’t do what you used to that holds you back? You can do this. You can. The only thing you need to do is move. Just move. You know all that. Now do it.

  4. I love check marks! I have a small daily calendar on which I write how many exercise minutes I achieved for that day. It helps motivate me to flip through the calendar and see how many days I’ve met my goal. My goal is *minimum* 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week, but I average 45-60 minutes, six days a week. This way, I can consider myself an over-achiever. 🙂

    As for rewards, Balega or Asics running socks are a real treat for me. They caress my feet! They’re pricey, but I consider them fine for reward purposes. 🙂

  5. Thank you all for the thoughtful, concrete, doable suggestions and support. Off to modify some things, work on sweetie by showing her my post and your comments, and spend some time chatting with my physically active sibs.

  6. I am late to the discussion, but I agree that giving yourself rewards can be very helpful. Starting with small nice things you like (I like Cammy’s socks) or for me sometimes it is buying some special tea I don’t usually spend on.

    I am able to go exercise each morning first thing – so I get up and get dressed in my workout clothes right away. I just don’t give myself any wiggle room to make excuses or get distracted . I did find it was easier to mess around and miss classes when they were not scheduled first thing. Having a buddy in the class helps, so try to make friends and feel accountable to someone for being there.

    I understand about the knee pain. My physical therapist said keep working out if the pain stays at a 3 to 4. So that is the guideline I use. Otherwise you know the RICE routine.
    Hang in – it will come together.

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